The Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems (COFS) at The University of Western Australia is the largest research group in the world focusing on offshore geotechnical engineering. The group has 30 academics, 25 administrative and technical staff, 44 PhD students and hosts world-class experimental facilities, including 2 geotechnical centrifuges.
COFS is one of the three nodes of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre for Excellence in Geotechnical Science and Engineering (CGSE) and is offering a post-doctoral position in geotechnical engineering to work on an ARC Discovery Project in collaboration with The University of Newcastle. The project involves centrifuge, numerical and analytical modelling to investigate the behaviour of foundations in sand for offshore renewable energy structures under multidirectional cyclic loadings.
The position description and selection criteria can be found here.
A PhD Scholarship exists for the computational modelling, simulation and analysis of hydraulic fracturing in Australian coal seam geology. This multiphysics research program will develop a variational approach to fracture mechanics, as well as associated numerical solution algorithms, to simulate three-dimensional hydraulic fracture involving complex systems of cracks in porous geomaterials.
Dr Wenhua Zhao and Dr Shiaohuey Chow have been recognised in the UWA Early Career Researcher Best Publication Awards. The awards are designed to acknowledge outstanding research accomplishments by Early Careers Researchers.
Dr Wenhua Zhao was awarded a Best Publication Award for his paper ‘Predication of hydrodynamic performance of an FLNG system in side-by-side offloading operation’. Published in the Journal of Fluids and Structures, the paper presents a comprehensive study on the hydrodynamics of an FLNG system with a focus on the nonlinear coupling effects of vessels and connection systems based on the concept FLNG prototype recently designed for South China Sea. Dr Zhao’s paper can be accessed at doi 10.1016/j.jfluidstructs.2013.11.021.
Dr Shiaohuey Chow received a special commendation for her paper ‘Soil strength estimation and pore pressure dissipation for free-fall piezocone in soft clay’, published in Géotechnique. Dr Chow’s paper proposes an improved interpretation of free-fall piezocones (FFP) to estimate the soil undrained shear strength and coefficient of consolidation, derived from the first centrifuge modelling of FFPs in soft clay. The full paper can be accessed at doi 10.1680/geot.14.P.107.
The CGSE invites practising engineers and academics to make and submit predictions of the performance of an embankment constructed using prefabricated vertical drains on soft clay and/or the load-displacement response of a shallow foundation loaded to failure on soft clay.
Field observations and the time history of the embankment behaviour, as well as the various predictions of that behaviour will be presented and discussed in a special Prediction Symposium to be held in Newcastle, Australia, on 9 and 10 of September 2016.
More information on the symposium is available here.
The ARC Centre of Excellence for Geotechnical Science and Engineering is pleased announce that the two-day short course on 2D/3D slope stability analysis by Dr Murray Fredlund will go ahead as planned on 16-17 February 2015 at The University of Newcastle.
For full details and registration information, please refer to the flyer.
The link directly to the online shop for enrollment is as follows:
Professor Susan Gourvenec was awarded one of the UWA Vice-Chancellor’s Mid-Career Research Awards for distinguished achievement in research in the engineering field. The award was presented by UWA Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Johnson and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Professor Robyn Owens at a ceremony celebrating ‘Research Week’.
Susan has established her research career at the Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems (COFS) since joining UWA in 2001. Her research focusses on seabed engineering with particular interests in optimization of foundations for floating facilities and subsea infrastructure. Her research has led to awards from the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, the Australian and New Zealand Geomechanics Society, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Canadian Geotechnical Society. Outcomes from Susan’s research have been applied in engineering practice in Australia and overseas and are referenced in international design guidelines. Susan’s research findings are disseminated to undergraduates, postgraduates and industry personnel through her co-ordination and delivery of specialist courses in offshore geotechnics and co-authored text book with Mark Randolph ’Offshore Geotechnical Engineering’. Susan also writes for The Conversation.
The CGSE would like to congratulate Susan on her award and thank her for her contributions to the Centre.
Prof Robyn Owens (UWA), Dr Phil Watson (Fugro) and Mr Peter Burger (Fugro)
The Fugro Chair in Geotechnics aims to develop a sustainable research group, to address key questions related to design and performance within the field of offshore geotechnics, reducing risk and enhancing engineering design within the offshore sector.
The agreement, which also provides funding for three PhD scholarships, was signed by UWA Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robyn Owens and Dr Phil Watson, Director of Fugro Advanced Geomechanics in Perth and Fugro’s Global Service Line Manager GeoConsulting.
CGSE Deputy Director, Winthrop Professor Mark Cassidy said the partnership between Fugro and the Centre would help ensure research was targeted to solving real world problems.
Dr Watson said the creation of the Fugro Chair in Geotechnics was fully aligned with Fugro’s strategic objective to further expand its global consultancy business.
“This initiative combines the best consultants and researchers with the high quality earth data acquired by Fugro’s geotechnical and survey experts,” he said.
The PhD scholarships aim to facilitate the growth of high quality graduates in offshore geotechnics and engineering, with selected students offered the opportunity to work with Fugro.
Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Geotechnical Science and Engineering (CGSE), were recognised through two awards presented last week at the annual meeting of the Canadian Geotechnical Society, in Regina Canada. CGSE-authored papers were given the RM Quigley Award for the best paper published in 2013 in the Canadian Geotechnical Journal, and an RM Quigley Honourable Mention as runner-up in this competition.
The papers were lead-authored by University of Western Australia (UWA) PhD graduates, Zack Westgate and Divya Mana and co-authored by their supervisors Professors Mark Randolph, Susan Gourvenec and David White.
As well as the academic recognition of these awards, the research has had impact in industry. Zack’s paper, entitled “Modelling the embedment process during pipe-laying on fine-grained soils” is one of 7 papers from his PhD, which has led to new methods for assessing the embedment behaviour of subsea pipelines that are used widely in industry. After graduating from UWA, Zack joined Perth firm, Advanced Geomechanics (now Fugro AG), and is currently based in Fugro’s Houston office.
“I’m now enjoying the opportunity to transfer the knowledge from my PhD into the design practices used by Fugro on offshore pipeline projects in the US and worldwide” said Zack. His research is cited in the international standards that advise on subsea pipeline design, and has already been applied by Fugro AG on many projects across Australia and worldwide.
Meanwhile, Divya’s paper, entitled “Experimental investigation of reverse end bearing of offshore shallow foundations” has led to design tools that are already being applied to assess potential anchoring systems for large floating oil and gas platforms offshore Australia. Her supervisor, Professor Susan Gourvenec said “Divya’s work focused on the need to develop efficient and reliable anchoring systems for tethered floating structures, which are one solution for accessing Australia’s remote gas fields. I’ve collaborated with Fugro AG to deploy Divya’s research in practice, sizing up foundation systems planned for offshore Australia”.
Steve Neubecker, General Manager GeoConsulting at Fugro AG in Perth, said that their close interaction with The Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems (COFS) at UWA helps to transfer technology rapidly into engineering practice. “The research recognised by these awards has already been applied to projects in Australia and elsewhere, thanks to close collaboration between COFS and Fugro AG. As Australian projects move into deeper water with new types of floating structures and challenging pipeline conditions, novel geotechnical solutions are needed. Our partnership with the university allows us to develop these solutions drawing on the university’s academic strengths and our industry experience – leading to award-winning research and practical engineering solutions that are applicable both offshore Australia and worldwide.”
Fugro AG supports COFS’ research as a Partner Investigator in the Australian Research Council Centre for Excellence in Geotechnical Science and Engineering, of which COFS is the Western Australian node.
• Fixed term (3 year) Appointment
• Centre for Geomechanics & Railway Engineering
The Centre for Geomechanics & Railway Engineering has an outstanding record of research achievements with a worldwide reputation. The Centre is part of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence in Geotechnics. It currently has over a dozen Research Academics and over 35 full-time PhD students supported by significant grants from the ARC, Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Rail Innovation, and other industry funding.
The Centre is seeking for a high calibre candidate to work on a three-year geotechnical project under the auspices of the Australian Research Council involving the development of predictive models for soft clay behaviour under vacuum pressure with vertical drains. You will be able to plan and implement a field trial embankment, develop computational models incorporating complex soil-drain interface behaviour, and develop novel design principles and guidelines imperative for practising engineers.
To apply for this position you will need to address the selection criteria as part of your application which is located within the position description on our Employment website.
For further information regarding this position, please contact Professor Buddhima Indraratna on (61 2) 4221 3046.
Pic: Conleth O’Loughlin (COFS), Senol Ӧzmutlu (Vryhof) and Joris Roozen (Vryhof) with the DEPLA anchor.
An innovative offshore anchor designed by CGSE researchers at The University of Western Australia has already been snapped up by Dutch anchor specialists Vryhof Anchors.
The Dynamically Embedded Plate Anchor (DEPLA) was developed by Associate Professor Conleth O’Loughlin, from UWA’s Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems (COFS), and Dr Mark Richardson, a former PhD student at COFS.
The new anchor design, aimed at mobile drilling units and floating production systems in deep and ultra-deep water, would reduce installation time, costs and materials, Associate Professor O’Loughlin said.
Associate Professor O’Loughlin, who has been researching dynamically installed anchors for the past 10 years, said the anchor was a hybrid system able to sustain significant vertical load and required no external energy source or mechanical operation for installation.
“The anchor resembles a dart, and is installed using gravity, similar to other dynamically installed anchors such as the torpedo pile,” he said.
“However the main part of the ‘dart’, which we call the follower, is removed after the anchor is embedded in the seabed and re-used for the next installation. This leaves the anchor flukes in the seabed, which then become the plate anchor.”
Associate Professor O’Loughlin said global energy company Petrobras had been using a gravity-embedded design since the mid-1990s.
“But the rest of the world has been slow to follow,” he said. “However, one of the limitations of the Petrobras design is that it is not the most efficient – it doesn’t have a lot of capacity relative to its weight.
“The DEPLA boasts all the installation advantages of the torpedo pile, but is much more efficient at resisting load, meaning that much smaller and cheaper units can be used for mooring offshore facilities. Being able to re-use the follower is a significant bonus.”
Vryhof project director Senol Ozmutlu said results indicated the DEPLA exhibited similar behaviour to other dynamically installed anchors during installation, but with much higher capacities and predictability than other dynamically installed anchors that resisted load in friction.
The DEPLA has been tested at model scale in the geotechnical centrifuge facilities at COFS. In these experiments, soil samples are spun at up to 200 times Earth’s gravity, creating stress conditions in the centrifuge sample that are equivalent to tens of metres of the seabed.
The DEPLA was put through its paces in these tests, with the centrifuge data playing a pivotal role in informing the final design concept. This is now a well-accepted approach for obtaining performance data of geotechnical systems and COFS is a world leader, with both beam and drum centrifuge facilities that are heavily utilised by the offshore industry worldwide.
Vryhof’s Business Development Director Leo Bello said the company was extremely happy with the new anchor.
“It will give us a reliable product for ultra-deep water uses that will help our clients reduce their overall mooring cost,” Mr Bello said. “The DEPLA combines the advantages of dynamically installed anchors and vertically loaded anchors and is fully patented.”
The DEPLA has been extensively tested at a quarter scale and it will be now Vryhof ‘s task to engineer and test a full-scale prototype.
“Vryhof was the ideal industry partner to continue development of the DEPLA and we look forward to assisting them in making it a real prospect for the offshore industry” Associate Professor O’Loughlin said.